Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin Dead at 71

Comedian George Carlin died last night at the age of 71.

George Carlin's star was before most of our times. I'm sure most of you know him as the guy that's in Kevin Smith movies. Of course I remember him as the star of the really bad George Carlin Show.

Of course for older generations, he's in the pantheon of great comics joining Richard Pryor and Rodney Dangerfield. History buffs may recall his arrest for the Seven Dirtiest Words bit in Milwaukee in 1972.

Here's a YouTube tribute.

The Arm Rest

I went to a party recently, and I met a female by the Chex-mix bowl. I dug into the bowl and ate the wonderful snack while discarding the pretzels. The thin brunette was wearing casual clothes and drinking liquid from a plastic red cup.

“What time is it?” she asked.

“1:30,” I said.

After about five minutes of that dialogue going back and forth, I decided to change the subject.

“Isn’t it crazy how Ronald Reagan punked Walter Mondale in the 1984 election?” I said.

“Oh my god, I know, right? It reminds me of the time Ashton Kutcher punk’d The Rock,” she said.

“I don’t think I saw that episode. What happened?” I asked.

“The Rock was on set for the movie Be Cool and Ashton totally blew up The Rock’s trailer freaking The Rock out big time,” she said.

“You’d think the celebrities would be on to it by now. I mean, how often do trailers really blow up?” I said.

“That’s true. Gees, what horrible song is this?”

“Pat Boone. I can’t believe they’re playing Pat Boone. That’s about 50 years too late. Give me Duran Duran. Something,” I said.

“Gold Digger,” she said.

“What?” I asked.

“I want to hear Kanye West Gold Digger,” she said.

“Alright, I’ll see what I can do,” I said.

I went to the CD player and noticed a CD wallet. I flipped through the CDs and found the Kanye West CD. I inserted the CD into the stereo and played Kanye West. I walked back to, ummm, what’s her name?

“Hey, so what’s your name?” I asked.

“Blossom,” she said.

“Really,” I said.

“Yeah,” she said.

“That must have sucked growing up,” I said.

“Yeah. The Joey Lawrence jokes were really bad,” she said.

“Well, at least he’s an obscure reference today. Regardless, I’ll spare you the ‘whoa!’ anyway,” I said.

“Thanks. Guys think they are original when they should that out,” she said.

“Sometimes we’re not that creative. It’s true. I’m Ryan, by the way,” I said.

“Hello Ryan,” she said.

“This might not be the most original idea ever but how about we see the Nacho Libre at the movie theatre,” I said.

“That’s out on DVD,” she said.

“It is, but there is this one movie theatre that plays Nacho Libre nonstop. I’ve always wanted to check it out,” I said.

“Okay, that sounds good. Let me see your phone so I can put my number in it. You can call me tomorrow,” she said.

“Yeah, definitely,” I said.

Moments later the cops knocked on the door. The neighbors complained because we played Kanye West too loud. Why weren’t there complaints when we played Pat Boone?

The next day I called her.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Nothing much. I’m just looking at pictures of Tom and Katie’s kid,” she said.

“That kid could be either the best looking kid in the world or the ugliest kid in the world. Really, there is no middle,” I said.

“There’s an article in here about Brad and Angelina. I still can’t believe Brad left Jennifer,” she said.

“Oh, I can,” I said.

“What?” she asked.

“Cannn not. Jennifer is beautiful, bold, funny, and charming. Angelina. What? Gone in 60 Seconds. Come on. Give me something more,” I said.

“Yeah, exactly. She used to be with Billy Bob. Brad is the hottest man in the world and he is getting Billy Bob’s leftovers,” she said.

“Well, that’s better than when Nicolas Cage married Lisa Marie Presley. He was getting Michael Jackson’s leftovers,” I said.

“Ick, that mustache on Bruce Willis has got to go,” she said.

“Yeah, not the best fashion choice. But hey, so we’re on for tonight, right?” I asked.

“Yeah, I was thinking around eight would work for me,” she said.

“That’s fine. I’ll pick you up then,” I said.

“Okay, see you then,” she said.

I went over to my friend’s house for advice.

“So I got this date with this girl I met last night. We’re watching Nacho Libre at that one movie theatre. So when we’re sitting
down, should I place my hand on her knee or around her shoulder,” I said.

“What are you talking about?” he asked.

“You know, how do I approach the movie theatre date,” I said.

“I wouldn’t worry about all that. You just have to make sure the armrest is up,” he said.

That night, I picked up my date, got tickets, and entered the theater. We sat down in the semi-reclining chair. Every time I reclined back, the chair moved me forward.

Her arm consumed the armrest, and I was going crazy trying to figure out how I could lift the armrest up. Then it hit me.

“Hey, can you get some snacks if I give you some money?” I asked.

“Sure, what do you want?” she asked.

“Chex mix? Dunkaroos? Those giant, chewable Sweetarts? I don’t know. What do they have?” I asked.

“Um, popcorn,” she said.

“Okay, that works. And get a drink too please,” I said.

She left to go purchase the popcorn and soda, and I swiftly moved the armrest up. Then I moved it back down. I did not know what to do. I thought she would think it was weird that suddenly the armrest was up after she left. Maybe she wanted the armrest up. I don’t know. I just wanted to watch the movie from the director of Napolean Dynamite, the writer of School of Rock and the cinematographer of Ghost Dad.

I saw her walking up the stairs, and I quickly moved the armrest back up. I almost expected Roger Waters to perform a celebratory concert of the union of the two movie theatre seats.

She handed me the bag of popcorn and sat down. She moved the armrest down, placed the soda cup in the armrest cup holder, and we watched the movie.

He won because I lost

“Hey, let’s hit the dance floor,” I said.

“Should we go up to two girls who are dancing with each other?” my friend Mike asked.

I refuse to do the wingman thing seriously. I can’t comprehend how two girls can fall for the buddy system shtick.
My mom and grandma raised me during the 80s. I ironed my clothes at two years old. I cooked eggs at eight years old. I made bracelets from thread at ten years old. I never nailed pieces of wood together to make a birdhouse. I never changed my car’s oil. Actually, I have never flipped through a car magazine.

Women see two guys approach them, and the women think the guys are after sex. It does not matter that the two guys in this situation want to dance. How many times have we seen the movie where two guys work their game on women at a club? How many times do guys watch those movies and think that actually works?

“No, I’d rather just dance on my own. Ya know there’s going to be a girl dancing by herself,” I said.

* * *

“There’s the Captain Morgan girls. I bet they are giving away free drinks,” I said.

“Let’s go over there,” my friend Cyrus said.

We walked to the bar area where a man dressed as Captain Morgan posed for pictures with patrons. Team Morgan consisted of two other girls. One girl took pictures from a Polaroid camera, and the other girl would go to the bar to retrieve Captain and Cokes to give to the patrons.

“How do you get free Captain and Cokes?” I asked.

“If you take a picture with the Captain, we will get you a free drink. But here’s a starter,” she said.

I took a drink.

The other girl placed Cyrus and myself next to the Captain, and she took a picture of us. The first girl gave Cyrus and me another drink.

“Thanks, that was really awesome of you,” I said.

“No problem. This place is running Captain specials all night,” she said.

“That’s really cool, but I like the idea of free drinks, ya know,” I said.

“Let me see what I can do,” she said.

Two minutes later, she brought Cyrus and me another drink.

“If I keep posing for pictures, will I get more free drinks?” I asked.

“Yeah, do you want to take another picture?” she asked.

“Well, it would be cool if I had a copy of the picture,” I said.

Seven progressively drunker pictures later, I had my alcohol fix for the night. I spotted my friend Mike at the other side of the bar.

“Hey, let’s hit the dance floor,” I said.

“Should we go up to two girls who are dancing with each other?” he asked.

“No, I’d rather just dance on my own. Ya know there’s going to be a girl dancing by herself,” I said.

* * *

“I’m not a p-nazi. Are you kidding me? I just like being in pictures, you dork,” I said on the phone to my friend Monika. categorizes a p-nazi as a guy, who takes a shirtless picture of himself in the bathroom or at the gym.

“Fine, fine. But you’re in every picture I took. You just pop up somehow,” she said.

“I don’t turn down a free picture,” I said.

So you’re hitting the clubs tonight?” she asked.

“Yeah. I feel like breaking it down on the dance floor,” I said.

“What are you wearing tonight?” she asked.

“Button down shirt, those brown funktastic pants, no tie, and purple contacts,” I said.

“How’s the hair?” she asked.

“I’m growing it out,” I said.

“No, you need a haircut,” she said.

“Ya know, fuck the pretty boy image. I’m a rock star,” I said.

“Yeah, sure you are,” she said.

“Oh, come on now. You know I am,” I said.

* * *

“I’m going to dance with that girl over there,” I said.

“Go for it,” Mike said.

Every step I took toward her matched the Kanye beat. Her blonde hair screamed, “I used to be a brunette!”

“Yes, I know,” my fake black hair said back.

“Hi, I’m Ryan,” I said.

“Devra,” she said.

“Devra?” I asked.

“No, Sarna,” she said.

“Sarna?” I asked.

She laughed. “No, [totally inaudible],” she said.

“Oh, okay, cool. Nice to meet you,” I said.

The Bel Biv Devoe song played, and I threw out steps that Stomp The Yard couldn’t match.

* * *

“You know, I can go off campus for lunch,” I said.

“Oh, mister big high school senior and his off campus pass,” my friend Tara said.

“I’m just sayin,” I said.

“Why don’t ya?” she asked.

“I like to hang with the people sometimes,” I said.

“So we’re the people?” she asked.

“Yeah, you know, you’re the commoners, and I’m reaching out to ya,” I said.

I enjoyed hanging out in the newspaper room with Tara, Amy, Patty, Erin, and Kim. We had this thing called ‘Girl Talk.’ The title doesn’t really make me seem manly, but I learned how to be a man from the talks. I would talk about a girl I was dating, and they would offer me advice. Logically, I figured getting advice from girls was better than getting advice from guys.

“Wanna dance?” Tara asked.

“What is this? Nsync?” I asked.

“No, Backstreet Boys,” she said.

“Sure, let’s do it,” I said.

“Okay, follow my lead,” she said.

* * *

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to bump knees. I’ve had a little bit to drink,” I said.

“That’s okay. You dance unusual,” she said.

I’ve taken sober notice at guys’ dance moves at clubs. Some guys are just tremendous. Other guys look like their whole body from the knees to the neck is wrapped in a hard body cast. The head bobs in motion. The knees bend and catch some beat. And their ankles must be sprained or something. I’m trying to figure how the Wobbly Chicken became the dance craze of my generation.

I don’t dance professionally. In fact, film coverage of my dance moves would confuse Napoleon Dynamite. I like to have fun, and I know that movement is fun. I incorporate swing, ballroom, and bump n grind in my routine.

“Yeah, well, I’m not a fan of swaying. Save that for a Coldplay concert,” I said.

A man approached -what’s her name- from behind. He started dancing and holding on to her back hips.

“I think your boyfriend is getting jealous. I should leave,” I said.

“He’s not my boyfriend,” she said.

I spun us around, so now my back is facing him.

“Better?” I asked.

“Yeah, he’s been bothering me all night,” she said.

“Who is he?” I asked.

“He’s my friend, but he’s been trying to get with me all night,” I said.

“And you’re not interested?” I asked.

“Nope, just a friend,” she said.

“Apparently, he doesn’t grasp that concept,” I said.

She kissed me.

“I’m going to get some water,” she said.

“Alright, I’m going to use the bathroom real quick,” I said.

* * *

“I made you this bracelet,” I said.

“Oh, cool. It’s FSU colors,” Melissa said.

Melissa sat in the front of my row in my 5th grade social studies class at St. Jude’s elementary school in Florida. I didn’t have any feelings for her, but at the same time, she didn’t have cooties. She made a bracelet with Gator blue and orange colors for me one day. I thought bracelet-making looked fun so I bought a bunch of thread and a case at the store.

Bracelet-making: the new game boy.

Other boys and girls from class picked up on this activity. I considered myself the Susan B. Anthony of bracelet-making.
Later that day at recess, I did the Too Legit To Quit moves with a couple guy friends. The dance consists of a lot of arm and leg movements. The original Tae-Bo. After the dance, I backed up to fall on the mulch for the grand finale. However, I backed up into a bigger sixth grader.

“Don’t touch me,” he said.

“Sorry man, I didn’t know you were behind me,” I said.

“It doesn’t matter. You touched me. A fifth grader touched me,” he said.

“It’s cool, dude. I’m sorry. No problems,” I said.

He pushed me.

"Don't push me," I said.

“You’re not going to fight me? Are you a pussy?” he asked.

“I don’t fight,” I said.

“Look at this pansy. I totally won,” he said to a couple friends.

"What did you win? Where's your ribbon? I don't see it," I said.

"What?" he asked.

"Yeah, of course you don't get it," I said.

* * *

I came back from the bathroom, and -what’s her name- stood by the corner with her head down.

“Is everything cool?” I asked.

“I guess,” she said.

“Let’s go dance,” I said.

She didn’t move.

“Come on. It’s The Backstreet Boys,” I said.

She just looked at me.

“Tell me why! Ain’t nothing but a heartache. Telllll me whyyy,” I sang.

She smiled. We danced.

Her friend noticed us dancing. He came over, hooked his arm around her shoulder, and took her away from me.

“Come on, dude, what are you doing?” I asked.

He didn’t respond. I decided to go look for my friends. I couldn’t find them, so I called Mike. He said that they were outside, and they would wait for me. I walked around the club to find my dancing partner so I could tell her that I was leaving.

I saw the guy drag her towards the exit.

“Hey, it was really cool meeting you. I’m going to leave, but let me give you a hug,” I said.

I went to give her a hug. The guy pushed me.

* * *

I almost fell to the ground, but I maintained balance.

“Hey, you fucking idiot. What the hell was that for?” I asked.

“You think you can take me?” he asked.

I took a swing at this guy’s nose causing my knuckles to bleed. My skin didn’t break, but rather I caught the blood streaming
down from his nose. I then tackled the mother fucker to the ground.

“Hey, you bitch. What? Did you think I didn’t have it in me?” I taunted.

I punched him in the face again and pinned him to the ground. Club security then speared me to the ground. Nearby police officers quickly followed with handcuffs around my wrists and behind my back.

“What are you guys doing?” I asked.

“You’re under arrest. You have the right to remain silent,” the police officer said.

“Man, it’s impossible to keep me quiet. Fuck that. That idiot pushed me for no reason. He pushed me because he needed to validate his manhood. He pushed me because the girl liked me,” I said.

“And you elevated the incident,” he said.

He took me near his horse and phoned a patrol car.

“Why are you riding a horse? That’s just ridiculous,” I said.

* * *

I almost fell to the ground, but I maintained balance.

“That’s not cool, man,” I said.

He looked at me.

"What? You got nothing to say, so you have to push me?" I asked.

"Maybe I'll push you again," he said.

"Okay, that's fine. I'll be calling her tomorrow and we'll have a good laugh at what a prick you are. Really? A muscle shirt? Doesn't that require muscles?" I said.

Club security saw the push and escorted him out.

“Do you have another ride or something?” I asked.

“Yeah, I actually came with them,” she said pointing to two guys, a girl, and another girl dancing with a guy.

“Hey, that’s my friend David dancing with your friend,” I said.

“That’s cool,” she said.

“Well, hey, I’m going to get going, so I hope you have a good night,” I said.

“Yeah, definitely. Call me sometime,” she said.

I walked out of the club and met up with my friends.

“Can you believe what just happened? I totally got pushed from some jealous dude,” I said.

“Did you push back?” Cyrus asked.

“No, you know. I was thinking. That guy was so insecure about himself that he had to push me to validate his manhood. I didn’t need validation. I got the girl,” I said.

David walked out of the club and approached us.

“Hey, we’re the big winners tonight,” I said.

* * *

I almost fell to the ground, but I maintained balance.

I was so upset. I just looked at him. I walked outside and found Cyrus.

"Dude, this guy in the club totally pushed me," I said.

"What guy?" he asked.

"See that girl?" I asked.

"Umm, I think so," he said.

"The guy next to her. He pushed me. God I just want to go over there and kick his ass. Do you got my back?" I asked.

I asked that question hoping that Cyrus would talk me out of it.

"Dude, what are you going to do now?" he asked.

"Well, umm, fuck it, I'm going over there whether you got my back or not," I said.

"Alright, I got your back," Cyrus said.

I looked at him. "There's probably no point now."

* * *

The final scenario rang true. I did nothing. I did not stand up for myself. I let the guy push me. While I was not a macho guy that fought for a silly reason, I did not verbally confront him. I did not get the girl. Sure, we danced and made-out, and I got her phone number. He walked out with the girl, but he did not get the girl. I can not completely confirm that because I never called her. Why would I? I was a bitch. I let a guy push me around. I let a guy that she did not like drag her by the arm. I did not stick up for myself or for her. I was ashamed. He won because I lost.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rock A Life

Two years ago, at the age of 22, I received a schedule planner from a girl. Last time I felt disappointment from a gift, I had to exchange cargo shorts at the girl’s section at a department store.

“What am I going to do with this?” I asked.

“You can schedule your days out like me,” she said.

“What are you doing Friday night?” I asked.

She flipped over to Friday. “Nothing,” she said.

“We’re going to the Suns, Lakers game,” I said.

She wrote down, ‘Suns, Lakers game,’ in the Friday space. “What time?” she asked.

“I really don’t know. Let’s say six or something,” I said.

She wrote down, ‘6:30.’

I had never owned a schedule planner. I don’t plan things. I keep important obligations, such as work and school, free, but activities, such as weekend plans and vacations, I go based on feeling and whim.

I tried the schedule planner. I wrote down plans for every day that week. For Monday, I wrote down study session with Italian classmates. For Tuesday, I wrote down happy hour sushi and sake bombers. For Wednesday, I wrote down karaoke at the club. For Thursday, I wrote down fifty-cent coronas. For Friday, I wrote down Suns game. For Saturday, I wrote down party in Tempe. For Sunday, I wrote down TBS movies starring Martin Lawrence.

I did not do a single thing I wrote down in my schedule book. I had sushi that week, but not on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I didn’t expect one of my classmates to throw a huge party at his house. I did go to the basketball game Friday night but not with her. She broke up with me the night before. I didn’t have ‘girl breaks up with me’ written down on the Thursday space.
* * *
“Who’s ready to rock and roll, man?” I shouted into a dangling croquet mallet hanging from a patio overtop.

I stood tall. My four feet nothing body towered on top of a big patio table. I started young. I played concerts at the age of seven. I dressed well. Black corduroy pants and a white Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt represented trend and punk rock star.

I had a plastic croquet set, for which I never actually used for its original intent. I never faired well in sports. My imagination envisioned the mallet as a makeshift microphone. I threw the plastic croquet balls into the audience when I felt completely rowdy. I had a fake plastic toy guitar that played music from the prerecorded buttons.

My audience consisted of orange trees and grapefruit trees. The gulf Florida winds swayed the trees left to right. I pretended that the trees rocked out to the music I gave them.

My mom’s friend gave her access to her beach home for a week if she took care of the daily pet feedings. I spent each night with her watching MTV music videos. I saw Bon Jovi rockin’ out to a concert in their music video for Livin’ on a Prayer. I saw David Lee Roth jump with gymnastic leg kicks to the video, Jump.

“Might as well jump,” Roth sang.

I might as well.

I saw these rock stars and the music videos, and I knew that the rock star lifestyle fit my personality. I played to my backyard trees because I had no other option at the time. I was seven. But I knew that eventually, I could practice and move on to the bigger stage and feel the rush I saw from the rock stars on the music videos.

“I call this song, ‘New Kid With Lego Blocks,’” I said.

“Ryan, time for dinner,” my grandma called.
* * *
In 1994, I read in a magazine that purple was the color of the year. That year, at 11, I went from rock superstar to rap megastar.

“I think the hook should be the ‘yeaaaaah’ after our main verse,” I said.

“So the lyric should read, ‘purple is the color of the year, yeaaaaah?’” my friend Stan asked.

“Yeaaaaah,” I said.

We recorded the song at my grandma’s house. She had a Casio keyboard. DJ Stan brought his turntable with him. I tested each prerecorded beat. We agreed on a beat that we knew we could dance to for our music video. We could have gotten the same beat from a metronome.

“This is totally going to blow away Hip Hop Hooray,” I said.

“Are you ready?” he asked.

“Wait. We need a tape. Do you got one?” I asked.

“Right here,” he said.

He placed the cassette tape into the tape recorder. We began rapping.

“Yeah, yeah. I got me a car. The car is purple. Wanna know why? Because purple is the color of the year, yeaaaaah. Purple is the color of the year, yeaaaaah,” I rapped.

“Yeah, yeah. I like to write. The ink is purple. Wanna know why? Because purple is the color of the year, yeaaaaah. Purple is the color of the year, yeaaaaah,” DJ Stan rapped.

I stopped the tape. “That was so awesome.”

“Now we need pictures,” he said.

We looked through my photo album and found a picture of us standing outside his above ground swimming pool.

“I need to work out,” I said.

“I like your sunglasses,” he said.

I agreed with him. The plastic framed sunglasses overshadowed the lack of muscles and conveyed a tough image my fifth grade audience wanted in a rap megastar.
* * *
Christmas morning, I received an acoustic guitar. By then, my rap career had ended with my move to Houston. I knew I wanted to be a rock star again. I practiced hard. I even took lessons. I studied charts. I did anything and everything. I even followed the lessons from Phoebe to Joey on an episode of Friends. Phoebe made Joey practice without the guitar. I practiced without the guitar. Phoebe came up with names, like the bear claw, for cord arrangements. I arranged my hands into the bear claw. Even with the help of a TV show, I was horrible. My bear claw looked like Captain Hook’s iron hook. I had a hard time holding on to the pick. My tone-deaf ears hindered my ability to even tune the guitar.

I joined my junior high band that year. I still played my guitar in my free time, but I needed more musical exposure. I auditioned for the coronet, a trumpet looking instrument, but rented a clarinet, a completely different instrument. Pronunciation got the better of me at the music store. The band teacher arranged our seating based on rank. The best clarinet player sat in the number one chair and the worst clarinet player sat in the number twenty chair. I sat in the number eighteen chair. I noticed the flawless play from the seventeen enemy classmates. I desired to make the top ten, as that meant an upgrade to the top row, but the squeaks that came from my clarinet prevented me from any promotion.

The following year, I played the bass clarinet. The “easy A” class turned into an “at least I got a B minus” class. I stopped playing at concerts. I moved my fingers to each note without blowing into the instrument. Over a hundred students performed in band that I figured my teacher wouldn’t even notice my lack of participation. At this point, I finally mastered On Top of Old Smokey on my guitar. Not exactly rock and roll.
* * *
I attempted acoustic rock and roll because On Top of Old Smokey did not give me the rock star vibe. I performed Green Day’s Good Riddance for my friends inside my garage. I had at least a second delay for each cord change. The song sounded like a scratched CD that skips every other second played on a stereo with treble and bass knobs skewed to sound opposite of its original intent.

“I hope you had the time of. God.”

I threw my guitar pick to the floor, and I took my guitar and smashed it against the ground like The Who guitarist, Pete Townshend. The guitar body splintered into halves. I learned that “rock star” doesn’t involve music.
* * *
I thought rock star entailed singing into a plastic croquet mallet. I thought rock star dealt with coming up with a catchy hook to a rap song. I thought rock star was learning the guitar or playing for my junior high band.

Rock star is the rush, the attitude, and the inner joy from living in the moment. Rock stars do not keep schedule planners. When a rock star takes the stage, the rock star feels the rush from the crowd cheering. Real rock stars jump around on stage. I, the musically ungifted one, get the same feeling when I go out and do crazy stuff.

I am a rock star when I skate and fall. I am a rock star when I do shots of hot sauce. I am a rock star when I improvise a funky dance move at a club. I was a rock star the moment I smashed my guitar.
* * *
“Did you see that security guard try and stop the mosh pit?” my friend Mike asked.

“Yeah, I accidentally pushed the guy. Like we’re all pushing and having a good time and stuff. And I see this little guy wearing purple, and I push him. And he turns around and says, ‘Don’t push me.’ And I’m like, ‘what?’ And then I noticed that he was security,” I said.

“He’s like five foot five. There’s no way he’s stopping that,” he said.

“Hey, you want to go back in?” I asked.

“Why do you even ask?” he said.
* * *
“Are you drunk?” the Mexico cop asked me.

“No, no, I’m not drunk,” I said.

“You’re drunk, aren’t you?” he asked.

“No, I’m not drunk. I swear,” I said.

“Bend over,” he said.

I bent over the hood of his car. He felt all around trying to find a wallet. I had nothing.

The other officer opened up the back door.

“Get in,” he said.

“No, I’m waiting for my friend at his van,” I said.

They didn’t comprehend, so I spoke Italian to them.

“Aspetto per il mio amico alla van,” I said.

“Get in,” he said.

I jumped into the backseat. I was cold. I was confused. I’m in Rocky Point, and I can’t speak any Spanish. I have no internal compass.

I ended up in Mexico based on a bad joke with my friend ten hours earlier. We had just left Chandler mall. To get to his house, my friend had to go south first and then make a u-turn north onto the highway.

As he drove south, I said, “Where are you going? Mexico?”

He paused, “That’s a good idea.”

Ten minutes later, we MapQuested directions to Rocky Point because neither of us had ever traveled to Mexico.

A whim, a bad joke, and then I sat in the backseat of a federales car.

The officer sped off.

“Alto! Alto!” I shouted. I recalled the stop sign read ‘Alto.’

They officer alto’ed.

“Van! Van!” I said.

They let me go.

I sat by the van hoping my friend would make it to the van. Three minutes later, a convertible with four locals pulled up next to me.

“What’s wrong with you?” one of them asked.

“I was at the Pink Cadillac with my friend, and these girls that we had met at Manny’s wanted to go back to Manny’s. I couldn’t find my friend to tell him, so I just left for Manny’s without thinking that our cell phones don’t work. So we separated. And on my way to the van, two cops jump out of a cop car and question me. It was just crazy,” I said.

“We saw a guy walking this way. He was wearing a black jacket,” he said.

“That’s him. That’s my friend,” I said.

Five minutes later, I saw him stumbling towards the van.

“Dude, I was in the backseat of a cop car,” I said.

“Two cops stopped me too. They were looking for money,” he said.

“No way,” I said.
* * *

“Is that your cousin?” I asked.

My friend Mike looked at me and raised his index finger.

A few moments later he said, “No, that was his girlfriend. We can get into their suite if we can find a way into the stadium.”

A couple overheard us from the table to our right. “We have two tickets,” the man said.

Mike and my friend Cyrus jumped at the opportunity. They purchased tickets for the Holiday Bowl for ten dollars total.

“We’re going to put the camcorder away. Good luck finding tickets,” Mike said.

I sat at the table inside a restaurant across the street from the stadium with Maddux and Zehrbach.

“We have to find a way inside the stadium, right?” I asked.

“Yeah, let’s just go and see if we can get tickets from people leaving,” Zehrbach said.

Arizona State played University of Texas in the 2007 college football Holiday Bowl game. The game meant a chance to party in San Diego with our fellow Arizona State classmates and our friends from another school.

We left that morning after planning the trip the previous night. The six hour trip contained plenty of jokes inside the car. We did not anticipate going to the game. We wanted to tailgate with strangers in the parking lot at the stadium. We wanted to hang out with people at restaurants near the stadium. We wanted to party with the winning team, hopefully Arizona State, after the game. All of our wants dashed when we found out that Mike’s cousin had a suite. We wanted to party in a suite inside the stadium.

Maddux, Zehrbach, and I walked to the stadium. University of Texas led at halftime. The bands took over the field and some fans left for some early partying. We walked by the will-call area and overheard a group of three girls talking with a security guard.

“My man, over here, will take care of you guys,” the security guard.

“Thank you so much,” one of the girls said.

The three girls stood in front of the will-call window. “He said you could hook us up with tickets,” she said.

Three minutes later, the girls walked away with three tickets. We walked to the will-call window. “Hey, do you think you could hook us up with some tickets,” I said.

“Yeah, let me see what I can do,” the will-call guy said.

He came back with three tickets.

“Here’s some money for your efforts,” Maddux said with twenty dollars in his hand.

“It’s cool. I can’t take that,” he said.

“Really? Thanks. Good karma for you tonight,” Maddux said.

We paid zero dollars for three tickets. Mike and Cyrus paid ten dollars for two tickets. Mike majored in economics. Even he could realize that he got ripped off. Though, anybody who paid face value, fifty dollars, at least, got the worst deal.

We walked inside the stadium and met up with Mike and Cyrus at his cousin’s suite. The suite, for which we imagined big buffets and lots of drinks, contained a big room with a TV and bathroom and another area with stadium seats to watch the game in action.

“Where are the drinks at?” Zehrbach asked around.

“There are no drinks, but if you go upstairs to the suite directly above us and tell them my name, they’ll hook you up with drinks,” a man said.

“What is your name?” he asked.

“Bubba,” Bubba said.

Zehrbach and I went to the suite upstairs. We walked inside, and a stadium employee greeted us. She stood behind a row of top-shelf liquor. A buffet of meats and breads sat on a table to her right.

“Bubba sent us up here for drinks,” Zehrbach said.

“Bubba sent you,” a man interrupted. “We know Bubba. We don’t know you.”

“We’re really good friends with Bubba,” I said.

“Oh? Well, we paid top dollar for this suite. Bubba can have drinks. We know Bubba. We don’t know you,” he said.

“Is there anything you can do?” Zehrback said to the stadium employee.

“They paid for this suite, so if they don’t want you hanging out, then you’re going to have to leave,” she said.

She handed us two water bottles, and we walked out of the suite.

We walked toward the Wells Fargo suite, as indicated from the sign above the door. We stepped inside and saw food everywhere. One grill had hot dogs, another grill had hamburgers, and a platter contained lunch meats.

“Who are you guys?” a short man asked.

“We were sent up from my dad to the Wells Fargo suite,” Zehrbach said.

“Does your dad work here?” he asked.

“Yeah, he’s the head of the Phoenix district division,” Zehrbach said.

He pulled out a small electronic device. “What’s your dad’s last name?”

“Zehrbach. Z-E-H-R-B-A-C-H.”

The man typed the name into his device. “There is no Zehrbach. You guys can leave.”

“No, wait. They’re just college kids looking to have a good time,” a woman in her mid 30s interrupted.

“Who are you?” he asked us.

“We’re just a couple of college kids. We came from Phoenix today. We’re just looking for food and stuff,” Zehrbach said.

“Yeah, we’re poor and hungry,” I said.

“Go ahead. Help yourself. We have hot dogs and waters. We don’t have any alcohol, but you can get yourself some food,” the lady said.

The man stared at her and walked away.

I grabbed a hot dog and topped it with onions and relish. Zehrbach grabbed a water bottle. We faded into the background and watched the game. We started some mild taunting after an ASU touchdown, though we were still losing. The lady, our suite friend, left the suite fifteen minutes after having our back.

“Okay, now get out,” the man said to us. “You got some food, you got some water, now leave.”

We went back to Mike’s cousin’s suite. “Where did you get the hot dog?” Mike asked.

“We crashed the Wells Fargo suite,” I said.

“We were good until this lady, who had our back, left. Then this guy kicked us out,” Zehrbach said.

“Well, we’re down big. This game’s almost over. Wanna go party with the Texas fans?” Mike asked.
* * *
The mosh pit is the human cage of happy rock star rush. I jumped into people, I pushed people, I bounced off friends, and I hammered the security guard. Every rhythm bouncing moment inside the mosh pit created the inner joy. I felt the scary rock star rush of uncertainty in the backseat of the cop car in Mexico. I conjured up ways of how to free myself from the situation. Every silent moment inside the cop car created the inner joy. I felt the spontaneous rock star rush on the trip to San Diego. Within the trip, our plans changed from partying outside the stadium to partying inside the stadium. Getting the free tickets, raiding the suites created the inner joy. The mosh pit was the opening act. The Mexico cop car was the main act. The San Diego trip was the encore. These stories and not keeping a schedule planner is all the same. Not knowing what comes tonight, tomorrow, or next week creates the inner joy or the rock star rush of something. Rock star situations arise from unexpectedness.

According to the unofficial life timeline:

I should have graduated college two years ago at 22.

I will have my career by 23.

I will be married at 26.

I will have my first son at 28.

I will have my first daughter at 30.

I might be divorced at 34, but that is only fifty percent likely.

If divorced, I will be remarried at 38.

I will be promoted at 42.

I will be promoted again at 52.

I will celebrate my retirement at 65.

My grandkids will make fun of me for not getting it at 70.

My kids will send me to a retirement home at 75.

I will be reincarnated and repeat the timeline.

I have friends living this timeline. They work from nine to five. They come home from dinner and talk about work. They watch “must see tv.” They go to bed at ten. They repeat this pattern five days a week. This will continue for a solid forty years.

I think most of those things will happen in my life. I can’t force it. I can’t know for sure that it will happen. I have no control over the future. I know I have complete control over the now. I know that now is fun. If I can’t plan a week, how can I plan my life?

Monday, June 9, 2008

It's not fair! To deny me!

Whatever your opinion on Alanis Morissette, she does write some powerful lyrics.

Of course You Outta Know has a whole new meaning if you believe in the rumor that it is Uncle Joey from Full House.

The video to this song features Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters current drummer. He was a drummer for Alanis Morissette at the time.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Should Joe Maddon win manager of the year?

The Tampa Bay Rays have a 36-25 record and are currently second in the AL east. Should they continue this pace, should Joe Maddon win manager of the year?

Baseball Prospectus at the beginning of the year had them projected at 90 wins.

Based on statistical analysis, they were projected to have a very good season. Of course, if you just take a look at the team, they are loaded with young talent. Not only that, but a lot of the talent has had a couple years in the majors to develop further.

Their starting pitching is solid. Their line-up is okay. However, if you look at the top three hitters based on VORP (value over replacement player), their second best player is Eric Hinske. I do expect Carlos Pena, when healthy, will elevate his performance.

Joe Maddon deserves consideration if the Devil Rays make the playoffs. However, if the Chicago White Sox make the playoffs, then Ozzie Guillen deserves the AL manager of the year. Even despite his tirade saying that changes need to be made.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Should speed guys lead off?

I saw the Yankees and Twins game on ESPN. I'm curious to see if manager Ron Gardenhire uses his players effectively. The twins are three games above .500 and in second place in the AL Central. Three of those teams are below .500, and the leading Chicago White Sox are only 1.5 games in front. It is conceivable that the Twins could be in first place.

The lineup for Sunday night's game:

1. Carlos Gomez
2. Alexi Casilla
3. Joe Mauer
4. Justin Moreneau
5. Michael Cuddyer
6. Craig Monroe
7. Delmon Young
8. Brendan Harris
9. Matt Macri

The lineup order is only important for the first inning because after the first inning, the order becomes all crazy. But it is important to have the best hitters in the top 4 because they will see more at bats.

The best OPS hitters should hit 3 and 4. The best at 3 and second best at 4. After that, the highest OBP hitters should hit 1 and 2. Then your fifth and sixth best hitters should bat there and then 7-9 it doesn't matter much.

The common thought, it seems, is to have the speed guys bat first so if they get on base, they can steal a base or put pressure on the defense because of their speed. That's great. As long as they can get on base.

Carlos Gomez is a speed guy. Incredibly fast. Lets see if this is an effective lineup:

Carlos Gomez gets on base 30.8% of the time. That is really bad for a leadoff hitter. And even when he gets on, his steal success rate is 71% (17 steals out of 23 chances). So even his incredible speed doesn't translate great in the stolen base department. Joe Sheehan for Baseball Prospectus wrote: "If you're stealing at less than a 75% success rate, you're better off never going at all." But still, he makes an out 69.2% of the time, and when he gets on base, he makes an out 29% of the time when trying to steal.

The batting lineup should be:

1. Alexi Casilla
He gets on base 38.7% of the time. He also has a .864 ops. Limited games, only 19, but he's been effective in those games.
2. Joe Mauer
He's actually the second best OPS guy on the team of regulars, so he should bat fourth. However, his high OPS is largely in part to his .413 on base percentage.
3. Justin Moreneau
He's the highest OPS guy on the team with a .886 ops.
4. Craig Monroe
He's the third highest OPS regular guy on the team. His on base percentage is a horrible .294 on base percentage. Though he slugs at a .455 rate.
5. Carlos Gomez OPS+ 97 SLG .401
6. Delmon Young OPS+86
7. Michael Cuddyer OPS+ 85
8. Brendan Harris OPS+ 82
9. Matt Macri
He does have absurd numbers, but he has 3 at bats on the season, so who knows what he has?

Their 6th hitter has a OPS+ of 86 this year. That's horrendous. That is below the average player. That is David Eckstein production. In fact, their 5 through 8 hitters are below average hitters.

So even though I disagree with Gardenhire on his lineup a little, it's not like his GM gave him a great players to put in a lineup. Craig Monroe, their fourth best player, has an OPS+ of 108. The Twins are 29-27 this year. I suspect it's a result of their young pitching stepping up.

Kevin Slowey has one complete game, an ERA+ of 105 and a WHIP of 1.057.
Nick Blackburn has an ERA+ of 118 and a WHIP of 1.382

Livan Hernandez, Glen Perkins, and Boof Bonser are below average starters. I expect the Twins to slip in the standings. Carlos Gomez should not be batting lead-off. Though in this lineup, he should be batting 5th.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Should Willie Randolph keep his job?

Willie Randolph has been in the news lately in regards to his job security. He even has said that a lot of it has to deal with race. Perhaps. But comparing yourself to the Isiah Thomas situation isn't a very good move.

But the question is, should Willie Randolph keep his job?

The Mets are projected to win 93 games. As of now, they are one game above .500 and in third place.

Based on projections, the Mets are underachieving. Certainly that has to do with the players performance. Carlos Delgado has been horrendous this year. He has been on the decline the last two years, but this year, he is well below average with an 82 OPS+. To add to that, he is not a good defensive first baseman. Even with the low OPS+, he only has eight homeruns and a .383 slugging percentage.

Here is how the Mets lineup looks:

1. Jose Reyes
2. Luis Castillo
3. David Wright
4. Carlos Beltran
5. Carlos Delgado
6. Ryan Church
7. Brian Schneider
8. Endy Chavez
9. Pitcher

Without looking at the stats, I can tell you that Carlos Delgado batting 5th is way too high. He really shouldn't be a major league starter, in all honesty, but I feel that him batting 5th is based on past reputation. But at least he isn't batting THIRD like Jeff Kent and his 72 OPS+ for the Dodgers.

David Wright and his team high .920 OPS is the best hitter, and he should bat third. Ryan Church is the second best hitter, yep, and has a .904 OPS. He should bat fourth. Luis Castillo has a .374 on base percentage and is a solid second hitter. Jose Reyes doesn't have an insanely high on base percentage, and perhaps shouldn't lead-off, I'm okay with him leading off because he does have a good OPS. His OPS is .823 with a .345 OBP. Carlos Beltran has a lower OPS, .815, and a higher OBP, .370, so based on the numbers, he should lead-off. But I will buy into the fact that Reyes is a better lead-off candidate.

So my order would be:

1. Jose Reyes
2. Luis Castillo
3. David Wright
4. Ryan Church
5. Carlos Beltran
6. Carlos Delgado
7. Brian Schneider
8. Endy Chavez
9. Pitcher

Really, his only big mistake is not batting Ryan Church higher. He certainly deserves it. And for as horrendous of a hitter Carlos Delgado has been, especially for a first baseman, batting him fifth isn't nearly as bad as it looks. He should be batting sixth, which doesn't make a huge difference.

So what does that mean?

GM Omar Minaya has given Randolph some really bad players. Reyes, Wright, Church, Beltran, and Castillo are all fine hitters. But Delgado, Schneider, and Chavez are horrendous. Delgado's 82 OPS+ makes him the sixth best hitter. That's just a tad below David Ecksteain.

Yikes. And to think, that Schneider and Chavez are worse than that.

Now, I don't feel that Randolph manages pitchers well. No starter has thrown a complete game, which means that a relief pitcher is used in EVERY single game. No breaks.

If you look at the list, the Mets have played 55 games. Seven relief pitchers have thrown in 20 games or more. Pedro Feliciano has thrown in 29 games. That's more than half of the games played!

Aaron Heilman has thrown 26 games, or the second most games pitched for the team. He has an ERA of 6.67, or an ERA+ of 61, which is well well below the average pitcher. He has a WHIP of 1.588. So for every inning he pitches, he gives up one and a half walks and hits per inning pitched. That is significant because if Randolph uses him during the middle of the inning with runners on base, Heilman is likely to give up a hit or two and possibly a run.

Johan Santana has an ERA+ of 127 and a WHIP of 1.200. Both are below his career numbers, but they are both very respectable. He is an ace pitcher.

John Maine has an ERA + of 111 and a WHIP of 1.313. On an elite team, those are probably worthy of a third best pitcher, but he is pitching well.

Oliver Perez has pitched really bad. He has an ERA+ of 84 and a WHIP of 1.525. His past numbers suggest an up and down career. He should be the fifth best pitcher despite below average numbers because he is capable of delivering gems.

Mike Pelfrey has pitched even worse. He has an ERA + of 81 and a WHIP of 1.696. That is horrendous. His past numbers are similar. He should not be a starting pitcher.

The real problem with the Mets is the moves made by Omar Minaya. Carlos Delgado is horrible defensively, and he is a below average hitter. His power numbers are down, and he isn't getting on base.

My only real complaint with Randolph is that Ryan Church isn't batting higher and he over uses Aaron Heilman. Johan Santana and John Maine should pitch deeper into games. Some of those relievers just need a break, and those two pitchers have pitched well. Perhaps Randolph doesn't deserve as much criticism, though he deserves some because the team was projected to win 93 games. However, Randolph really shouldn't have brought up Isiah Thomas when he talked about minority coaches in New York receiving bad treatment by the media.

EDIT: The lineup was written for the lineup as of yesterday. As of today, Randolph made a change and Delgado now bats seventh. Ryan Church bas been moved to fifth, which is much better.

Beirut is for nerds

I've always enjoyed people from the east coast getting offended when someone calls the game beer pong. Besides, isn't Beirut the capital of Lebanon?

Out of curiosity, I wikipedia'd beer pong.

The info box is quite humorous:

Players typically 2 teams of 2
Age range legal drinking age, however widely played by underage participants
Setup time 2 minutes
Playing time 10-20 minutes or less
Random chance Easy
Skills required aiming, taunting and alcohol tolerance

The wiki page shows a diagram for the types of shots. The diagram is funny, and I wouldn't be surprised if the graph was printed on a t-shirt.

Speaking of t-shirts, I usually find most "funny" t-shirts to be tacky. In fact, despite popular thought, I only wear the Simpson and Family Guy t-shirts because they're blue. All but one were purchased from my mom or some relative. I digress. I did find humor in a t-shirt that someone wore last night that said something to the effect of "awkward mornings are better than boring nights."

It's better than a t-shirt I saw that read, "I like tits." At least he's honest.

My favourite t-shirt to wear is a cheap $5 t-shirt I bought at Old Navy when I lived in Chicago that has some karate diagram and reads "Foot to Face Institute." I wear it and purchased it because it's gray and can go excellent with black. Of course, the t-shirt is a conversation starter to a conversation I want no part of.

Other thoughts:

Why is game 1 of the NBA finals Thursday? Man. These playoffs were rolling along, and now I have tis six day gap between games.

The word "ish" never really took off as slang for it's.

The Strangers is an interesting and well-done horror movie.

I saw Problem Child yesterday on HBO, and that is an extremely underrated early 90s comedy. John Ritter's movie career is underrated, as well.

Why do non athletes take steroids? Is there an appeal to looking like this. Or having bacne? Here's a less freakier but still freaky picture. I just never understood muscles.

This question has bugged me since the 9th grade when I took Spanish 1. Why doesn't the English language start questions off with an upside down question mark? Wouldn't it make for an easier read? You know how like when we raise our voice as a question sentence goes on to reflect to the audience that it is, in fact, a question? I mean, sometimes if you're reading, you might not know it's a question until the very end, and by then, the voice reflections are non existent.